Miss Manitoulin welcomed back to Haweater

MANITOULIN—After a hiatus, the Miss Manitoulin pageant will be returning this summer, encouraging young women to showcase their poise, intelligence and Island pride in the age-old Haweater weekend tradition.

Spearheading the pageant’s comeback will be Rosalind Russell (who formerly ran the pageant from the 1980s to early 90s) on behalf of the Little Current Lions Club.

The Expositor spoke with Ms. Russell last week, finding out about Miss Manitoulin’s history and her plans for this year’s Miss Manitoulin pageant.

“Miss Manitoulin has always gone hand in hand with agriculture on the Island,” explained Ms. Russell. “The various Island communities would hold pageants at their agricultural fairs and pick young woman to represent them at Miss Haweater, which later became Miss Manitoulin.”

Ms. Russell said the pageant originated as a way for communities to promote the best the young woman had to offer in “husbandry skills” such as sewing, baking and making quilts, but that over the years, it evolved into an event to inspire and encourage young women.

“The Miss Manitoulin pageant will be open to young women ages 13 to 27 who will be divided into two divisions: Miss Teen Manitoulin, ages 13-16, and Miss Manitoulin, ages 17-27,” Ms. Russell explained. “The women will be competing in three main areas; the first portion of the pageant will be a 15 minute one-on-one interview with the judges, the second part will be a speech and the third element will be how they present themselves onstage through a fashion show.”

The winning contestants will go on to compete in Miss Northern Ontario or Miss Universe Canada, depending on their age category.

Ms. Russell has long roots in the pageant community, having coordinated Miss Manitoulin, Miss Espanola, Miss North Shore and Miss Massey in the past, in addition to being a pageant winner herself, serving as Miss Chapleau in 1975 and as a finalist in Miss Northern Ontario the same year.

Though Ms. Russell now resides in Espanola, she told The Expositor that the Island has a special place in her heart having lived in Little Current for several years and said she is excited to return and bring back Miss Manitoulin to Haweater Weekend.

“Manitoulin has always been really supportive of the pageant,” she said. “The businesses and people have always been behind the pageant, but in the 1980s there were a lot of politics and people across North America voicing opinions against them. But at the heart of them, pageants are about helping girls develop vital life skills.”

Ms. Russell shared that Canadian pageants are very different from the pageants in the United States, explaining that in pageants for younger girls, contestant can’t wear makeup until they are 13- or 14-years-old.

“In Canadian pageantry there are three main elements: public speaking, an essay about the history of Canada and a charity platform,” she explained. “Both my daughters were involved in pageants and that involvement, gave them confidence and public speaking skills.”

“A lot of people think that girls in pageants need to be slim and pretty to win, but pageants aren’t about that,” ucontinued Ms. Russell. “Each girl is unique and different, and pageants try to help young ladies showcase their individual abilities and encourage them to have confidence in who they are.”

The Miss Manitoulin pageant will make its comeback at this summer’s Haweater weekend on the Friday evening (August 2).

Ms. Russell is seeking anyone interested in being involved with the pageant from entertainers, past winners, Island businesses or individuals wishing to volunteer to contact her at 705-869-6397 or newscapes@eastlink.ca.

Robin Burridge